College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Doll still plugged in to
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Kirk Doll did a number of jobs following his playing career as a defensive
lineman at East Carolina before he figured out he wanted to coach.
“I thought I wanted to get into the golfing business,” said Doll, assistant
head coach and linebackers coach for LSU, which won the Sugar Bowl and the
BCS version of the 2003 national championship.
Doll drove a propane truck in the Greenville area and also ran a pizza place
after playing for the Pirates in 1971-72. He returned home to Wichita, KA,
where he worked at a doughnut shop and a taco restaurant.
“I wore a lot of different hats before I realized coaching was always what I
wanted to do,” Doll said.
Doll started coaching as a student assistant at Wichita State while he
worked on a degree in education there. He moved on to serve on a high school
staff in Texas City, TX, which is south of Houston, near Galveston. The head
coach of the high school program at Texas City, where Doll worked for two
years, was Elwood Kettler, one of Bear Bryant’s famed “Junction Boys.”
“If you read that book or see the movie, he was the one who had the spinal
injury,” Doll said. “But he stayed the whole camp.”
Doll became a part time assistant at Iowa State and later joined John
Cooper’s staff at Tulsa. During Doll’s five years at Tulsa he knew former
ECU coach Steve Logan.
“Steve and I are good friends,” Doll said. “I was working with the offensive
line at Tulsa coaching tight ends and tackles. When Steve became offensive
coordinator, I coached centers and guards.”
Doll went on to Arizona State and spent one year with Jackie Sherrill at
Texas A&M. He was with R.C. Slocum and the Aggies for five more years.
He spent three years at Notre Dame with Lou Holtz and five more on the
Fighting Irish staff with Bob Davie before going to Baton Rouge, which is
still reveling in its Louisiana Superdome triumph over Oklahoma three weeks
Doll said there was a parade on Sunday and about 30,000 fans came out to
Tiger Stadium for festivities despite rain.
“It’s been an experience that’s difficult to explain,” he said. “I had the
same feeling when we won the Southern Conference my senior year at East
Carolina. It took a lot of people with dedication and effort doing the best
they could do. It was really a rewarding experience.”
Doll shared the experience with former Pirate teammates Jimmy Creech of
Greenville and Billy Tart of Dunn. Doll said he has vacationed on the North
Carolina coast three of the last four years.
“Last summer some of them were asking if I would get them tickets when we
went to the Sugar Bowl,” Doll said. “I said ‘Yeah, yeah, sure.’ I thought we
had a good team and obviously we did, but I’m not sure if I thought we were
But Doll was good to his word when LSU got to the BCS title game. Former
teammate Jim Post had obligations that prevented him from making the trip to
New Orleans but Creech and Tart had a big time. Doll got them into the Nokia
pregame party and took them to the postgame meal with the LSU team.
Obviously the LSU linebackers were well coached. The Bayou Bengals ranked
No. 1 nationally in scoring defense.
Doll has been to all the major bowls in his coaching career — the Orange,
the Fiesta twice, the Rose and now the Sugar. He’s been to three Cotton
Bowls, a Gator Bowl, a Freedom Bowl, an Independence Bowl and a Holiday
Bowl. He has enjoyed taking his family with him on many of the postseason
“I’ve been fortunate to be around some great people and I’ve had some great
experiences,” Doll said.
It’s safe to say that his chosen career has been more fulfilling than some
of his early jobs. ECU remains close to his heart.
“Obviously I wish the best for East Carolina and all my buddies,” Doll said.
NAS-Kerr shifts gears
ECU star linebacker Jeff Kerr, who
finished his career for the Pirates on a 9-3 team in 1999, is leaving his
post as a strength and conditioning assistant for Jeff Connors at North
Carolina to become a jack man on the pit crew of a Busch series racing team
owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The car will be driven by Martin Truex Jr. The season starts in about three
weeks at Daytona Beach. Kerr said he will also be working for the John
Andretti-driven Pennzoil car in the Daytona 500. Kerr has worked previously
as a pit crew member.
Kerr had discussed the
recently created strength and conditioning position at
ECU with Pirates football coach John Thompson, but Thompson
was not sure of the specifics of the position, including salary, at the
time. Kerr was under some pressure from the race team to give them an
“I was first in line if I wanted it,” Kerr said of the opportunity on the
NASCAR circuit. “But they needed to know. We have to start practicing. The
first race is February 14th.”
Kerr and wife Misty, whose career is nursing, will continue living in Chapel
Hill until they can sell their townhouse.
“Then we’ll move to Mooresville or Lake Norman,” he said.
Another benefit of the career move for Kerr is that he will be able to work
on an MBA degree at Charlotte.
“They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Kerr said. “You have to keep your
eyes open and be on your toes, but I love the pressure to perform. I’m used
to it. I’ve been doing it all my life and I like that better.
"When you’re coaching you’re relying on 18 to 20 year olds. Here I can
actively do it. It’s a little bit of a relief really.”
tougher than ice for Herrion
East Carolina basketball coach Bill Herrion wasn’t really bothered by the
winter driving conditions that confronted the region on Sunday.
“Being from the north, we’re used to it,” he said.
But road conditions for his team continue to be troublesome. ECU fell to
0-19 in Conference USA road games over three seasons with a 70-47 loss at
Saint Louis on Saturday. The Pirates trailed by just one point at the half.
“We were down one and I thought we were in pretty good shape,” he said.
“Saint Louis is a very good defensive team. They turned up the heat the
first five minutes of the second half and we didn’t respond. That’s an issue
right now. We’ve got a lot of young guys in the backcourt.
“I don’t have a definite answer. We’re trying to work our way through it.”
ECU plays at national power Cincinnati at 8:05 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We haven’t really been playing that bad,” Herrion said. “Our early schedule
in the league has been very tough. Five of our last seven games have been on
the road. You look at who we’ve played and it’s really the upper half of the
league. ... In two games — UAB and Houston — we put ourselves in position to
win, and in this league when you don’t win games that you have a chance to
win, it’s severe. It hurts.”
The Pirates have also been forced to adjust to the loss of starting power
Gabriel Mikulas because of a broken right arm
sustained Jan. 14.
“Down the stretch of the Houston game (a 55-53 loss on Jan. 17), we really
missed his scoring presence inside,” Herrion said. “Right now we don’t have
anybody to go to inside. We’re trying to spread out on the perimeter.”
C-USA is obviously a very good basketball league but the Pirates should have
some more opportunities to get into the league win column, especially at
home, starting with DePaul at 7 p.m. on Saturday. ECU should have a
realistic shot at getting a C-USA road win at decimated South Florida the
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